Twenty-somethings at Christmas.

On December 21, 2010, I was 27 weeks pregnant with my second daughter, B. The first 27 weeks had gone by mostly uneventful. Except for a bit of bleeding early on, the pregnancy was low risk, completely textbook normal. Until December 19.

We went to a Christmas party with friends and I had a weird sensation. During pregnancy, weird is common and usually isn’t a big deal. But this was a different sort of weird. It felt like a bowling ball had spun in my stomach, followed by a lot of cramping.

I called my OB the next morning who wanted to see me immediately. She looked me over and checked me out, finding nothing alarming. We were planning to travel north for Christmas so she decided to run a fetal fibronectin test to determine if I was at risk for preterm labor.

In 24 hours, I went from a completely normal, boring pregnant lady to a bed-ridden Momma for the holidays and beyond.

29 weeks.

29 weeks.

That fetal fibronectin test came back positive. As did the next. And the next. I’m not really sure why we continued to do the tests since I’m pretty sure once it’s positive, it’s always positive.

I was just 25 years old. A baby. Who had another baby at home – E was just 18 months old at the time.

It was such a hard Christmas.

We were so looking forward to being with family. We were terrified that B may be joining us far too soon. We were worried about E and keeping her life as normal as possible. We were unsure of how on Earth we were going to keep going with a Momma on bed rest, a Daddy who worked an awful lot and a little, strong-willed spitfire who liked to go, go, go.

Our families shipped our Christmas gifts overnight. Luckily, J had some time off from work to help us adjust. And some dear, dear friends became like family to us.

Friends came to play nearly every day so E and I were never lonely. They brought so many meals. They took E on outings so I could get some rest. I will be forever indebted to them.

And we prayed. So, so much.

B was born at nearly 41 weeks when my doctor persuaded me it was finally time to kick her out.

In hindsight, the weird sensation I had at that Christmas party was probably B flipping breech, where she hung out until around 36 weeks.

I don’t know why the fetal fibronectin tests came back positive. When I think back to the 10 weeks I was on bed rest and the oh, so many OB appointments, it’s easy to be angry and feel like it was all a waste of time and energy. Memories and experiences with my daughter that I will never have again. A Christmas filled with worry and fret. But it’s not.

Presented with the same scenario, I would do it all again the exact same way. You can’t take it back. You can’t unbirth a premature baby. Although I don’t know why it happened the way it did, it is what it is.

B is now 21 months old – the same age E was when B was born.

My 21-month-old girl, 21 months ago.

My 21-month-old girl, 21 months ago.

It boggles my mind to think I was so young and having another child with a child that young. Twenty-one months seemed so grown to me then, but now I see it’s just the beginning of growing up.

Merry Christmas, everyone. May yours be filled with joy and wonderful memories.

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Time Out.

This Momma needs a time out.

And not of the discipline variety. Of course, I probably could use a bit more discipline in my blasé approach to most everything in life.

No, I just need time out of the ordinary, the routine, the expected, the necessary. Time to sit back. To reevaluate. To rest.

This time of year is hectic for everyone. We, by no means, have over-the-top holidays in this house but even our scaled down festivities have my head spinning. There are traditions to keep, people. Bake those cookies! Watch ALL the movies! Sip hot chocolate while looking at Christmas lights and NONOISEFROMTHEBACKSEAT – SILENCE!!!!

I feel like every other thought goes back to yesterday’s unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook. We live in such a fallen world. It hurts my heart and in the very bottom of my belly in the worst imaginable way. It makes me want to draw the curtains and never let my babies out of my sight.

It’s supposed to be the hap-happiest season of all. And yet there is so much sadness. The evil in this world doesn’t care. But I need to care. My girls are too young to really understand what’s happening but they do understand when Momma is acting weird.

There is so much in this life that I have to do. So if there is something I don’t want to do, I am not going to do it. Unapologetically. Because there are only so many hours in a day and there are other things that aren’t priorities that should be. Like watching Mary Poppins with my family – who, for the record, could care less if I bake five varieties of cookies this Christmas.

An open apology.

I’d like to take a minute to apologize to a few people -scratch that – a lot of people who’ve had the unfortunate luck of coming into contact with us over the past few days. It’s been rough, to say the least.

  • Apologies to the friends I have ignored this week and the playdates I’ve had to cancel courtesy of the coxsackie virus visiting our house for the THIRD time. Ulcers on my children and myself make me a bad, mad, miserable friend.
  • Apologies to the kind nurse at the pediatrician’s office with whom I was snappy on Wednesday when I needed an appointment for B between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. so I could pick E up from preschool on time.  You were very accommodating.
  • Apologies to the shoppers yesterday at our local Kroger who witnessed an impressively loud and spit-filled tantrum by my very large 3 year old. All because I wouldn’t buy myself flowers. Oh, the irony.
  • Apologies to the wonderful babysitters who graciously watched my cranky, cabin-fevered children this morning so I wouldn’t lose my cool due to the incessant whining, crying and fighting.
  • Apologies to all those who witnessed me losing my cool at the city’s best bakery after I waited 30 minutes for a sandwich order that never made its way to the kitchen. Of course, they compensated me with a free cupcake and cappuccino upgrade so I shouldn’t begrudge. But I of am. Sorry.
  • Apologies to the wonderful staff and patrons of Fleet Feet, the Color Vibe workers and the other racers who had to endure my screaming children at today’s Color Vibe race packet pick up. Additional apologies to the sweet, angel of a woman who tried to hold the door open for me and I instead rammed her little cheerful legs with my toddler-laden stroller/Weapon of Anger.
  • Apologies to my husband who didn’t get to enjoy any of the aforementioned cupcake. That’s what happens when you stay at work two hours late and I have to do packet pickup alone with two cranky children.

Wine, anyone? Correction – another glass of wine, anyone?

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The Santa Dilemma

It began in September, shortly after E started preschool.

She started talking about Santa Claus. She mentioned in passing that he was going to come to our house at night while she slept and leave stuff behind. Just typing that, it sounds creepy. I dismissed it and dodged the conversation for awhile.

Then, a few weeks ago, it picked up again.

We were at Target and E came across a toy she desperately needed. I told her that we weren’t going to buy it because we had plenty of toys to play with at home.

And she busted out the big S guns.

“Okay, Momma. I’ll ask Santa to bring it. And he’ll bring it to my house and it’ll be Christmas time.”

Oh boy.

I don’t want the girls to believe in Santa.

I’m not going to lie to them and say Santa is a real person who brings Christmas gifts to all the good boys and girls.

Does that make me a bad, Grinch-y, Scrooge of a parent? I don’t think so.

Suppose I encouraged my kids to believe in Jolly St. Nick. Eventually, they’ll catch on or hear from a classmate that it’s all a hoax. If I perpetuated this lie and orchestrated grand schemes to confirm his existence, I’m guilty of bold-faced lying to my children and they’ll know it.

If Santa was a lie, what else have I lied about? God? If it was okay me to lie about Santa, is it okay for her to lie to me? Maybe if it’s just a little white lie?

I know how my kid’s mind works. She’s logical and thorough. While she loves to play pretend and use her imagination, there are very clear lines of right and wrong and choices involved.

My parents took this same honesty route. The ironic part is that despite their truthfulness, I still believed in Santa. You know, the whole Miracle on 34th Street idea of just needing to believe enough. This willful suspension of disbelief faded the night I saw my father carrying our gifts down the stairs in big black garbage bags. I was sad but even in my 5-year-old brain, I knew nothing had changed. Christmas was exactly what it had been all along.

If you play the Santa game with your kids – rock on. I’m not knocking it. I just know how E’s mind works and that is not a path I want to go down.

When E mentions specifics about Santa bringing toys, I say, “Santa is a nice idea, E. It’s fun to play pretend and tell the stories. But Momma and Daddy get you presents at Christmas.” Otherwise, I reinforce that Santa is just like Elmo, Mickey Mouse or Dora – fun, but not real.

Christmas is a magical time and it isn’t about a big man in red. It’s full of excitement and kindness shared between friends and strangers. We talk about the historic Saint Nick and the significance of giving gifts. We discuss Jesus’s birthday and Magi.

Being a no-Santa family is a lot harder than I expected. Everyone talks about Santa. The cashier at the grocery store, the girl cutting E’s hair, even the gentleman waiting in line behind us at the post office.

“Are you being a good girl for Santa this year? He’s coming soon, you know.”

At preschool, Santa will pay a surprise visit during the Christmas party.

I’m not anti-Santa, really. It’s fun to pretend and we don’t avoid it. I don’t mind people talking about Santa to the kids and fully realize we are in the minority with our beliefs.

And I would never, ever want our honesty about Santa to ruin it for other kids.

I figure most kids believe until they’re 5, maybe 6? Here’s hoping E can keep her honesty to herself until then. Maybe with the encouragement and promise of some fun, Momma and daddy purchased toys on Christmas morning?